Letting Go – A Guide To Easing Separation Anxiety
Wiggle & Work has officially been open for a year. In that time hundreds of babies and toddlers have come through our doors giving us ample insight into how best to handle the dreaded separation anxiety. It is a completely normal part of growing and evolving with your child and we’ve developed some tips and tricks that we have found to help make the pathway through this baby and toddler journey easier.
Slow Your Roll ?
Adults often forget that every new experience is a big change for a child. We don’t realize that something simple could be very difficult for a baby or toddler. While you might be able to bounce from one new situation to another, interacting with a variety of new people and faces with ease, your child still needs to learn this skill and adjust gradually to big changes.
Imagine stepping off a plane in another country in which you don’t speak the language, and the only person you can communicate with walks away. That is how it might feel to a young child when left in a new environment for the first time. Our recommendation is to go slowly, making sure to leave enough time for you to be with your child in the new space and with new people so your child can get used to it while their safety net (you) is still accessible. For example, at our facility we encourage some parents to start coworking sessions at a desk near the play area at first so their little one can check in a few times while settling in.
Again & again & again ?
Life gets crazy fast – especially if you’re a working parent and even more so if you are a freelancer or business owner. Being your own boss allows for flexibility in a way traditional jobs don’t but toddlers and babies unfortunately thrive on consistency. The trick is to find a system that works for you and then stick with it. Maybe you’ve noticed that your child does better in care during mornings but afternoons (aka nap time) tend to end in tears. These are important things to notice so you can plan to put your little one in care in the morning. Even though a new routine is hard for your child to get used to, after some repetition you should see some great results. At our facility we recommend parents book three coworking sessions in close proximity right off the bat. We find that focusing on your child’s comfort first leads to significantly more productivity for you down the line.
Be Cool ⛄
Babies and toddlers are little emotional sponges. Whatever you feel when leaving them, they will also feel. We recommend, giving a calm and confident goodbye (we do not recommend sneaking away–for many children this can cause distrust). When your little one sees that you trust the situation you are leaving them in they will be more likely to trust it as well. That isn’t to say you aren’t allowed to feel your feelings. Separation anxiety certainly goes both ways and can be just as hard for parents as children. In fact, our service is perfect for these times when you just want the piece of mind from knowing you and your child are just a few steps away from each other.
Avoid The Nap Trap ?
This one sounds obvious, and it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. As babies grow to toddlers and beyond their sleep needs change many times which makes scheduling around nap time can be a big guess. It’s important to try though, because a sleepy kiddo is an emotional kiddo. Sometimes a totally adjusted socialized toddler or baby can have a hard time in a new exciting place simply because they are too tired.
The actual “walk away” when leaving your baby or toddler with a caregiver can be extremely emotional. One thing that can help is creating a goodbye ritual that helps warn and prepare you and your child for the separation. This can include a conversation at home the night or morning before for older kids, it can even include a picture of the space you want your child to remember. Once you are at the location play with your child for a few minutes, giving them some undivided attention. When you are ready to separate make the interaction calm and consistent. Such as a big hug, hand your child to Teacher, wave goodbye and say the same phrase to your little one, “I’m going to do some work now, I will always come back. Have fun!” Having the same conversation, the same slow transition every time will clue them into a familiar situation and help them feel secure.
Every child and parent will have their own methods to beat separation anxiety. At Wiggle & Work we encourage child led separation to cultivate trust and familiarity for your little one. We believe that when your family begins separation in their own way at their own comfort level it can be a positive and productive experience for everyone. We hope to see you and your little one soon for some wiggling and work.